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I Met a Hero: Chef David Bradley

​​Dr. Hui Clevenger, our State Agency Area Consultant serving School Nutrition Programs in metro Atlanta shared this heartwarming encounter from the field, telling the story of the creativity and innovation of Georgia School Nutrition Professionals. ​

I Met a Hero – David Bradley, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School ​

When Chef David Bradley was working as the executive chef of a successful restaurant in Midtown Atlanta, he never imagined one day he would become the school nutrition director and chef at his children’s school. However, when a fellow parent informed him that Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School was hiring a school nutrition director and he would have the chance to start a new program from scratch, he was intrigued and ready for the challenge. Ten years later, he wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (ANCS) is on a mission to “Engage the whole child—intellectually, social-emotionally, and physically.” This mission includes a special focus on school nutrition and wellness. Menus focus on cultural and heritage celebrations, seasonal feeling, and expanded vegetarian options. The school nutrition team utilizes in season local produce and from scratch recipes as often as possible.  


Chef Bradley and his team are enthusiastic about making the school cafeteria a place where ANCS students can try a variety of new foods and flavors as part of the academic school day. Student favorites from the globally inspired menu include house-made jerk chicken beef and veggie burgers, pozole verde served with radish, cabbage, and lime, and teriyaki chicken and tofu. Another favorite is nachos including house-made tortilla chips, cheese sauce, and salsa. Demonstrating even further commitment to their students learning experience, this school year when ANCS established their first Model UN Team, the school nutrition team designed an Egyptian and Libyan menu to celebrate the student’s representing Egypt and Libya in their first competition. 

There is a huge focus on farm-to-school and sustainability efforts at ANCS. During the 2020 pandemic with the help of local farmers, the school expanded their school garden to a school farm including 120 raised garden beds, growing everything from greens and herbs to vegetables and muscadines. The harvest from these garden beds provides seasonal produce to the school cafeteria. It is a full-circle process as the cafeteria also composts for use on the school farm. 

The farm also serves as a tremendous learning opportunity for students. ANCS employs a full-time school Farmer and Farm Educator, and students work on the farm as part of their curriculum. The diverse lessons include lessons about soil, plant cycles, composting, amending beds, planting, harvesting, and more. They have even extended lessons into the cafeteria by having 5th grade students making bread dough and watching it rise during a lesson on microorganisms. 

It is clear Chef David Bradley and the school nutrition team at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School are school nutrition heroes through their commitment to quality school meals, student engagement, and food-based learning for all their students. They are dedicated to making a difference in their students and our collective future one meal at a time. ​